Friday, May 04, 2018
Piala Indonesia Returns
The logistical nightmare that is the Piala Indonesia is back after an absence of six years. If you think the normal league season is a nightmare spare a thought for this domestic behemoth that makes the AFC Cup look like a spontaneous play ground kick around.
The competition started life as Copa Indonesia back in 2006 under the sponsorship of a tobacco company, my things have changed, and Arema won the first two competitions. Sriwijaya then won it three years on the spin before Persibo lifted the trophy in 2012, the last time it was held.
And now it's back. Eighteen Liga 1 teams, 24 from Liga 2 and 86 Liga 3 teams have been divided into 16 geographical zones, a total of 128 teams starting out on a journey that will lead to the final being played in December. Or January. There are no fixed dates for the ties to be played meaning it will have to be squeezed in alongside the regular Liga season. And the Asian Games. And the AFF Suzuki Cup. But I'm sure that has all be taken into consideration by the organisers! Be that as it may, expect a few teams to fall by the wayside...
First round ties are expected to start next week with a couple of games slated for 8th May with holders Persibo hosting Madura United and Arema travelling to Blitar to take on PSBK. It promisies to be quite a season for football fans in the East Java city with no less than four teams competing in the competition; Blitar Poetra host PSMP, PSBI entertain Persebaya while Liga 2 side Blitar United make the short journey to Madiun Putra.
As is the way with good cup competitions around the world there are a number of eye catching ties pitching minnows against the big boys with Kuala Nanggroe hosting PSMS being a fine example of the genre. Another good measure of a domestic cup is the need for an atlas to find some of the teams!
There are a couple of derby matches in the Sumatra region which catch the eye. Persiraja host Aceh United while PSPS Riau will be taking to the boats to take on 757 Kepri Jaya. Three time cup winners Sriwijaya will also take to the high seas as they travel to Bangka to take on PS Bangka Selection.
Is there such a thing as a Sunda Straits Derby? Perhaps there is now as SS Lampung will be hosting Cilegon United meaning the Cilegon squad and their supporters will be crossing the narrow water way for the tie. Perhaps we could call it the Krakatau Derby?
Moving closer to Jakarta an intriguing match up sees Persitangsel hosting Liga 1 champions Bhayangkara. I have no idea where this tie will be played; should it be played at the Cops' new base in South Jakarta we can expect a healthy following of Persitangsel fans to make the short journey.
Persija, flying high in Liga 1 and the AFC Cup have been drawn away to Persikabo, an easy trek south to the Pakansari Stadium for the Jakmania hoardes if the tie is not moved.
In West Java Persib will travel to Cimahi ensuring a large away following while Bogor host Persika Karawang coached by Ricky Nelson.
Another of those local derbies that can only occur in Indonesia sees Persiba Bantul play host to PS Tira at Sultan Agung Stadium. Both teams of course share the same stadium since PS Tira rebranded themselves and moved to the town ahead of the new season.
Further east sees a Madura Derby with Persepam taking on Madura while one tie that catches the eye sees Persekabpas host Persid. Don't ask why, it just does!
Moving beyond Java and things get very interesting with PS Sumbawa Barta playing Bali United, Sidrap United hosting PSM, Persiter v Celebest and Yahukimo taking on Persipura.
The complete draw can be found here.
An exciting competition with some nervy ties awaiting the big boys, it is good to have the Piala Indonesia back!